CASA DON JUAN. Before you venture forth, load up on cheese, beans and tequila at this friendly Mexican restaurant. You’ll likely see everyone you know, doing the exact same thing. (1204 S. Main Street, 384-8070.)
COMMERCE STREET STUDIOS. This hive of gallery spaces, which houses standout Black Bird Studios, reminds us of what the Arts Factory was like before it broke big. The art you’ll see here is often more passionate and organic than you’ll find down the street. (1551 S. Commerce Street, CommerceStreetStudios.com.)
TRIFECTA GALLERY. Marty Walsh’s Arts Factory gallery has must-see shows on its walls as a matter of routine. Don’t forget to visit the Attachment Room; it’s always full of surprises. (107 E. Charleston Blvd., 366-7001.)
CONTEMPORARY ARTS CENTER. The CAC is the Arts District’s grand dame—a Vegas fixture for 23 years, and been part of downtown since 1996. But it’s just as daring and inventive a gallery now as it’s ever been. (107 E. Charleston Blvd., Suite 120, 382-3886.)
TASTY SPACE. Dana Satterwhite’s tasty little gallery, located in the back of Emergency Arts, is on a hot streak: Its last few shows, sly vamps on commercial art, have positively dazzled. (520 E. Fremont St., Suite 150, TastySpaceLV.com.)
THE BRETT WESLEY TRIO: BRETT WESLEY GALLERY, ARTIFICE, ART SQUARE. Brett Wesley owns a terrific standalone gallery, a fantastic neighborhood bar and a blossoming arts/dining/theater complex—and on First Friday, all of them shine. (The intersection of S. Casino Center Blvd and E. Charleston Boulevard, BrettWesleyGallery.com, ArtificeBar.com, ArtSquareLV.com.)
BAR + BISTRO. Whether you’re indulging in well-mixed cocktails from the bar, delicious tapas from the kitchen or live performances on the patio, B + B is made of win. (107 E. Charleston Blvd., Suite 155, BarBistroAF.com.)
THE HUNTRIDGE TAVERN. The First Friday crowds at this classy dive bar are big enough to be fun, but small enough to be manageable. Many artists take their “victory lap” here. (1116 E. Charleston Blvd., 384-7377.)
FREMONT EAST/GET BACK ALLEY. Here’s where First Friday ends—in a haze of dance and drink, not necessarily in that order. You’ll find a party practically everywhere you turn. (In the alley behind Beauty Bar, 517 Fremont Street, Suite A, 598-1965, TheBeautyBar.com/las_vegas, FirstFridayLasVegas.com.)
PREVIEW THURSDAY. Not a place, but a time: The night before First Friday, when all the art is hung in the various local galleries. The artists are in attendance and are actually free to talk. Want to actually see and buy art? This is the night to do it.
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